Sunday, June 11, 2006

A World Of Software Beings

Researchers in Europe are about to launch a project where software "beings" they have created will interact with each other, learn, share what they've learned, and even reproduce. You can read more here.

It's kinda funny, but on a similar topic a couple years ago my son was asking for my opinion on the salvation of robots. Sounds crazy, right? I think so too, but it was something they were discussing in school about how far AI (Artificial Intelligence) can go. It started with the idea of replacing the brain with machine in an effort to reach immortality. From there, our own discussion went toward implanting chips to improve your memory, increase your math skills (a built-in calculator!) and vocabulary or what have you. We talked about the possibility that the implants would eventually be able to not only perform, but learn. If you took it far enough and had enough implants, and the implants outlived you but decided that the show must go on, when would you cease to be you? The bit about computers that could learn brought my son to ask whether a robot could scan the bible and come to the conclusion that he (I mean, "it") needed to be saved from its sins. Once it was evangelizing other robots and humans, would we still be able to call it so much metal or would it at some point take on a "life" that we would value?

I think it's fun stuff to think about and talk about, but it all really seems pretty black-and-white to me. And I don't think God will ever be confused about when we're alive or dead, and I don't think He'll be issuing souls to robots any time soon. On the other hand, there's always that nagging question about, "How do I know that I'm not just a computer program running in my head?"

Ha ha, Peace to you!

6 Comments:

Blogger JLF said...

I often wonder similar thoughts about cloning people and that type of thing... the whole question of a soul in a being is a very peculiar one.

June 12, 2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger DErifter said...

I'm a little less sure about cloning. I probably couldn't back it up from scripture, but I have a feeling that actual human cloning can't happen because only God can cause a soul to inhabit a body. It could be that since cloning uses existing human cells, that God would still work with that but I don't know, it seems sort of "manufactured". If there were humans without souls walking around, we'd have some serious thinking to do.

I could be wrong about human cloning being impossible, and the way things are going I suppose I'll find out soon. If it happens, then I'll have to re-think some things too. At any rate, we're certainly overstepping our bounds with human cloning, or in my opinion, cloning of any kind.

June 12, 2006 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Hey, derifter. Hadn't been around for a while, but wanted to drop you a line. I just moved to Chicago, so I'm way closer to you than I used to be (still a good ways away, though).

About the soul and cloning...do you think it's possible for a human being to exist without a soul? Is a soul inherent in our design, or is that something extra that's added to us? If it's extra, is it possible that certain humans haven't had a soul (maybe Hitler or Manson)? Is a soul synonymous with morality and a conscience or are those three different things?

Just some things for us to wonder about...

June 13, 2006 4:15 AM  
Blogger DErifter said...

Hi Josh

Yeah, it's been a while. Hey what was Ben thinking? He wears a helmet when he runs into other men, but not when he runs into cars? Sounds like he'll be okay for the start of the season though, so that's good. Thank God he didn't get hurt worse than he did. Will you be a Bears fan now that you're in Chicago?.........:)

Humans without souls, huh? I use soul and spirit pretty interchangeably, and I suppose I'd define either as "that which makes us alive" or more accurately, "that which is us". (Please don't ask about animals!) You could cut off my leg and there it would be, laying on the ground. That's not me, it's my leg. I think if you separate the soul/spirit from the body, the body is the "thing" and the soul/spirit is the person, or "being".

Using that definition I'd say no, a human can't exist without a soul. Or they can, but they'd be dead. That's a big part of my tentative theory that human cloning can't happen. It also answers your question about Hitler and Manson. I think a conscience and morality are attributes aquired by a soul.

Pretty bold of you to ask questions like that and then split without leaving your thoughts, buddy.

June 13, 2006 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Haha...yeah, I'm a jerk like that some times. Ask questions and then go to bed without saying anything.

I'm not about to defend Big Ben for the motorcycle thing. I remember reading an article in the Pittsburgh newspaper last year about Cowher asking him to wear a helmet and Ben refusing. I thought it was pretty dumb of him then, and now i obviously seems even more ridiculous. He's going to live, but man did that probably hurt. His jaw is broken in two places and he supposedly had a nine inch gash in his forehead. I really hope he's not too prideful to admit that he was wrong when he talks to the media again. I know it's tough to admit that to millions of people, but he's going to look foolish if he doesn't.

I agree with you on your soul/spirit thought. I think that human life is synonymous with soul/spirit possession. Because of that, I'm going to have to say that I think a clone would have a soul. At the very least I think most Christians would agree that since we don't know for sure that a cloned human doesn't have a soul, we should minister and treat him/her as if we knew he/she did.

Well, I'm tired so I think I'm going to bed. Being a new Chicago citizen I'll root for the bears as long as they don't play the Steelers. I've been a die-hard Pittsburgh fan for as long as I can remember and I've never really had a #2 team. Why not the Bears, right (much as it pains me, I'll also wish your Vikings a good season as well)?

June 14, 2006 2:31 AM  
Blogger DErifter said...

Hey Man,
You're far from being a jerk, maybe a jerk wanna-be at best! Your observation about treating clones as though we're certain they do have a soul is excellent. In it, there's nothing to lose and everything, even eternity, to gain.

June 15, 2006 8:37 PM  

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